The Future Of Content: Chris Do on How Entrepreneurs and Creatives Can Stay Fresh and Relevant
Emmy award-winning designer, educator, and Blind CEO Chris Do shares insights on how creators can maximize the power and profitability of their content.
We live in visually overwhelming, image-saturated times, and technology has dramatically changed how and who can buy, shoot and curate images and other forms of visual content, and how much we’ll pay for it.
In his keynote at Los Angeles’ annual DMLA image licensing conference, Chris Do synthesized and brought a new perspective to how we think about licensing, selling and packaging content. The biggest takeaway: whether you’re a designer, artist, photographer, or any other kind of creator, being a creative chameleon is vital to growth and success.
Following the conference, Chris was generous enough to share some insights with us on the future of creativity. We’ve also included some stills from The Raveonettes’ 2008 music video “Black and White,” which Chris directed, and a few recent talks from his platform The Futur.
From DMLA to the Bend Design Conference, you’ve been on a whirlwind of talks over the past few weeks amidst everything else you do— thanks for taking the time to chat with us. What was the most impactful shift in content for you over the past 10 years?
Chris Do: The biggest shift that has impacted us is the changes in how people consume content. We are no longer tethered to cable TV and watch what we want when we want and don’t want to be interrupted with ads.
As a company that was in the business of making commercials, the demand for our services waned. We had to adapt or die. So we started to explore other outlets for our creativity and did a hard pivot.
We needed to learn not to work for agencies but how to become one. This meant learning strategy, marketing and branding to offer our clients the ability to partner with a design firm that could deliver an end to end solution. We are now positioned as a beam design consultancy.
What advice would you give to your past self, as you were starting your career?
Chris Do: Don’t be in a rush to start a company. Learn from how others run theirs. Build relationships and learn how to bid, negotiate and land jobs. Learn how to promote your work and be media savvy.
Learn that when times are good, they don’t last forever so scale the team up quickly. Learn to love the difficult stuff so that you don’t become dependent on others to do what you must do.
What’s the biggest obstacle or opportunity for emerging creatives today?
Chris Do: Change is the biggest obstacle. Things are moving fast so keeping up with what’s going on is difficult. Realize that almost everything that is taught in school is outdated by a few years.
Opportunities exist everywhere. Learn how to tap into building an engaging personal brand. Learn how to be conversant in social media. Make content. The world is converting into apps and websites so there are many opportunities in UX/UI aka product design.
People need help in branding their companies to learn how to strategize, write and create a complete user experience. Learn how to play in the global marketplace because the world is shrinking.
One of the most interesting notes from your DMLA talk was the idea of “remixing and reselling.” What learnings do you think photographers and content creators can take from this?
Chris Do: There is no such thing as a new idea. Embrace that as part of growth, development and community building. As creatives, we pretend to be on our own private island and don’t want to admit our influences and inspirations. This is insane.
Rather, if we can build a marketplace where remixing adds value to everyone this will promote this concept more. The music industry, youtube creators and artist have been doing this for decades. Isn’t it time image makers do the same?
This wouldn’t be a Wemark piece without some reference to Blockchain. What’s your take on its relationship to content? More than just a buzzword?
Chris Do: I’m fascinated by the ability to have provenance over images. How this is done, and to what extent I’m curious to see.
I think of you foremost as a designer, but I’m guessing you look at a range of content for inspiration. What’s your go-to? What keeps you inspired?
Books. The books I read have the greatest impact on me right now. I read books on business, mindset, philosophy and gain a new understanding of how people think.
This, in turn, allows me to share what I learn while I learn it with my audience. Those conversations allow me to build even more content so I’m caught in a virtuous cycle of learning and sharing.